How to support local small businesses

It is now past mid-June, virtual graduation ceremonies are mainly over, and the kids are …well, they are still home just like they have been since mid-March.  This weekend is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, which frankly, won’t feel that special since all the days and weeks and months have been long.

But, wait! Here in the East Bay, our lives are going through a phased process of getting back to a new normal.  Right now, where I live, people are allowed to go out to restaurants again, with a lot of restrictions.  You must sit outside, not a hardship in our beautiful weather. You must wear a mask while going to and from your table. Restaurant staff will limit the number of people on the patio to achieve social distance standards. It will be different and at times, awkward, but worth it to be able to go out to your favorite restaurant - and to eat delicious food and have yummy drinks made by a real bartender!

Of course, be patient and kind to the restaurant staff who will be masked and gloved while walking greater distances to wait on you.  Their jobs will be so much harder! Make sure you tip as much as you possibly can.

Our local restaurants comprise a big part of our local economy and they have really been hurt by this pandemic and the shut-down. Kudos to you if you have been part of the 70% of the population doing takeout and delivery during the shut-down—now reward yourself with a nice meal out.  

Obviously, our local economy has many other small businesses who are gearing up to reopen, going through different phases. Here are ways to support them now.

Top ways to support local small businesses:

Buy gift cards! 

If you can afford it, buy gift cards from your favorite local retailers and services, for use in the future. Or as gifts—the holidays will be here before you know it.  Examples of places that could really use the support right now:

—-Hair and nail salons, 

—-Massage studios, 

—-gyms and fitness trainers, and 

—-boutiques.  

Call your favorite haunts and ask if they have gift cards available.  Many businesses have adapted to provide these during this pandemic.

 

Do curbside shopping!

Call or go online to local retailers—most have contactless pickup or delivery (you can avoid Amazon this way and keep your money in your local community).  In most cases, you will get a time to pick up or be told how to contact the staff when you are outside at the curb so they can put your purchase right into your car.  This is one service I will miss when we can all shop inside again!

 

Give shout-outs on your social media channels!

More people are looking at social media right now. 

Thanks to social distancing, people are spending more and more time on their phones and computers. That means more eyes on social media pages.

When you highlight a local business on your social media, it can have a catalytic affect: You're making your network aware of the business and how they can contribute. The best way to continue to support local businesses is to let your community know they still exist. Share on social media your favorite local businesses and encourage your community to do the same.

Another way to use social media: find the Facebook page of a local business and follow them. Read their posts on a regular basis.  (Pro-tip—hit the love or wow button on Facebook to increase their metrics.  Likes don’t count the same in the Facebook algorithm).

 

Write reviews!

Good reviews are always treasured by business owners, but especially now.  Go to Google, Yelp, Linked In and/or the business website and do it now.  It doesn’t have to be long; just say what you find special about the business or service.  It’ll help the business as well as your community!

 

Lastly, make sure you are being a good citizen and protecting the staff serving you—wearing face masks, washing your hands, practicing social distancing. As with any new way of doing things, there is a learning curve.  Some people will quickly be able to help you but most will struggle to provide the great customer service they want to—be kind and compassionate.  We are all in this together and we will emerge from these times with stronger community bonds.

 

Written by: Dawn Lopshire

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